Urban Retirement Trend?

Over the course of the last (almost) 30 years of my advising clients I have seen many different scenarios when it comes to lifestyles and solutions to financial issues.  So much so that nothing seems to really stick out as being anything truly unique but, on the other hand, not many of my clients are similar either as there are many different lifestyle choices to chose from.  That is, until recently.  Lately, I have seen many of my clients who live in the city planning on retiring in the outlying parts of the city.  Some want to move to the east in areas such as Kingston and Brockville while others thing they might enjoy the St Catherine’s areas or the  areas surrounding Elmira and Elora.

I don’t need to ask the question, “Why?”.  Being their financial planner the choice to expatriate Toronto city life is all too evident in their retirement assessments.  Typically, their once affordable home (purchased many years ago in a more affordable Toronto market) is now bearing a price tag north of $1 million.   Giving up the convenience of the Toronto lifestyle and purchasing a home in a more rural setting for, say, $350,000 gives a large additional cash influx to the retirement plan.  Living off the equity they have built in their homes offers a vastly different lifestyle.  Most choose not to move too far away from the city where a visit to the theatre or the opera for an evening isn’t impossible but the transition is still key.

Moving from a place where the world is at your doorstep to a place where you walk out the door and either see fields of green or mountains of while (albeit not in the most recent winters) can leave a vast void.  Friends left behind in the city centre or who have chosen to move into other rural areas seem distant, more and more so as the months become years.

This is where I started to wonder how the people of these rural communities felt about this sudden new influx of ‘city-folk’?  Especially, in communities where families have been rooted over generations and watching Peyton Place seems too much like real life.  Who are these new breed of people who don’t belong in the community inner-circle?~those who don’t know Uncle Joe or the fact that Aunt Sally really isn’t blood related?  Or is there a new breed of community evidenced by social groups starting of ex-city patriots?  Perhaps ex-city dwellers form theatre groups or film clubs followed by lively discussion to satisfy their need to socialize with kinfolk who have had the same influences and understandings of living in an urban centre?

I ponder this question moreso as my own retirement looms (not for 13 more years, but still close enough to think about seriously).  Will I be able to afford living in the city?  If many are leaving now, will rural housing still be affordable?  Instead of smaller key centres such as St. Catherine’s or Kingston will I be looking towards the farmlands of Listowel?  ~ and more importantly, will I fit into the predominantly Irish community there?

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  1. Holly Reid

    This is a great article and very timely. I’ve had friends that have made this type of move with mixed results. Those who lived in the city for work reasons but weren’t really urbanites love the smaller centres but others who took full advantage of the city when they lived here found themselves endlessly coming back to town and that has a cost to it as well.

    • Thanks for sharing your friends experiences, Holly. Great points to consider when thinking about relocation in retirement!

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